What is the Google Sandbox and How to Avoid the Google Sandbox

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The Google sandbox is not a place you want your website to be so let’s discuss what it is and how to avoid the Google sandbox.  There are two types of punishments Google can hand down to you.  If you’ve been very naughty they will delist your site.  That is what it sounds like; your site will no longer be found in the Google SERPs.  To see if your site has been delisted you can go to Google and type in:


If nothing appears with your URL in the results than you got a problem. Ok, but that is not the sandbox, that is delisting. So let’s get back to the Google sandbox. This is a lesser punishment handed down where you went from ranking for a keyword or phrase one day to the next day being nowhere to be found. Your site is still indexed in Google (which you can verify using the test above) but in the results you cannot find yourself. You have been sandboxed. In a nutshell, you have done something to upset Google, usually in terms of SEO and backlinking, and they are punishing you for a while by moving your site so far down in the rankings that you’ll get no traffic. Don’t jump off a bridge, this punishment is not permanent but it can last anywhere from a week to a few months.

Now that we all understand what the Google sandbox is let’s talk about how to avoid the sandbox. The most prevalent reason why sites are placed into the sandbox is that either they built a ton of backlinks in a short amount of time that looked very unnatural to Google, or you built spammy backlinks of garbage quality. Backlink diversity is very important. If you are only trying to build quanitity and so you go the route of creating a million backlinks via a tool like XRumer or Scrapebox you are temping the sandbox to come calling for your site. If your domain is aged you have a better chance of avoiding the sandbox but if you have a new site and you’re building a ton of backlinks that are not well diversified then there is a good chance your site will get sandboxed. Why is this? Think about it like this, let’s say a new site gets launched to a media buzz and everyone is talking about it. Maybe in its first week of launching there are 2 million backlinks created through the web to this new site. Now this site has no age, it has had a tremendous amount of backlinks built to it in a short time, but it is no sandboxed… because those 2 million backlinks are sure to be from a variety of places. Forums, articles, blog posts, comments, news releases, etc… Google will see that those backlinks are naturally generated and this hot new site will not be sandboxed. But now you come along. You made a site, you want to monetize the ads you put on it, but you need to get it ranked in the search engines. So you blast out 2 million backlinks. Bammmmm! Your site gets the penalty. Google is very smart, and attempting to trick Google with a no effort lazy man’s approach is not going to work. You are sandboxed. And there is more to consider. Remember those 2 million backlinks that the hot new site earned naturally, well there will be link Pagerank diversity in there. This is another good indicator to Google that the backlinks are natural. When you go out there and blast away to create backlinks, most of the backlinks that stick will be PR0 or PR1. If your site gets a ton of backlinks and they are all low quality Pagerank backlinks this sticks out like a sore thumb to Google. You need to diversify multiple ways when you build your backlinks.

You can avoid the Google sandbox by diversification of backlinks, by building backlinks slowly over time instead of trying to rush and get as many as possible in as short as possible, or you can focus on only building a few backlinks but which are found on very high pagerank pages. While Yahoo and Bing still really like to see a high number of backlinks, Google has begun to give more weight to the Pagerank of a site the backlink is found on more than how many backlinks in total your site has.

When you get out there and start to work your SEO game and generate backlinks make sure you understand what will sandbox your site and avoid doing it, or you could find your site a months in no man’s land.

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  1. I am curious if you have any information on a bing sandbox as well. My Google Adsense tools actually showed one of my ads as generated on a site called bingsandbox.com .

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